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What are all the differences between the iPhone 4/iPhone 4S and the iPod touch 4th Gen?
Please note that the iPhone 4 (except in mainland China) and the iPod touch 4th Gen both have been discontinued. The iPhone 4S is available new from Apple. This Q&A has been updated with current iOS support details and can be quite helpful for anyone buying or selling any of these devices whether new or used.
There are a number of significant differences between the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S models themselves -- specifically the iPhone 4 (GSM), iPhone 4 (CDMA), and iPhone 4S -- as well as more modest differences between the 2010, 2011, and 2012 iPod touch 4th Generation models.
Based on e-mails from EveryiPhone.com readers, just about everyone understands that the iPod touch 4th Gen models are more-or-less a "phone-less" version of the iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S. Accordingly, the iPod touch 4th Gen lacks mobile phone and cellular data capabilities, but otherwise has a fair amount in common with the iPhone 4.
However, there are a number other design, capability and technical differences -- not to mention major iOS support differences -- that are important to understand to ensure that one of these devices will meet your needs and expectations.
If it wasn't for the speaker "slit" above the display on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S it would be easy to mistake the iPod touch 4th Gen for either model from the front without paying close attention. All three devices have a 960x640 (326 ppi) display, but the iPod touch 4th Gen display is noticeably darker when next to either of the iPhone models in person.
Additionally, these iPhone and iPod touch models are instantly distinguishable from the side and back.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (iPhone 4 - Left, iPod touch 4th Gen - Right)
The iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S models all use the same basic stainless steel design with a black or white glass front and back as well as a "metal band" that includes the antennas and wraps around the sides of each phone.
The iPod touch 4th Gen models also have a black or white glass front (black only for the 2010 line), but instead of flat sides and a flat glass back, they have a chromed metal back with quickly tapering sides. The iPod touch 4th Gen is about 25% thinner than the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, which already is significant, but the tapered design makes it "feel" much, much thinner.
The iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPod touch 4th Gen all have dual cameras. All have a front-mounted VGA quality "FaceTime" camera, as well, but the quality of the rear camera is different.
Specifically, the iPod touch 4th Gen has a 720p, 0.7 megapixel camera; the iPhone 4 models have a 720p, 5 megapixel camera; and the iPhone 4S has a 1080p, 8 megapixel camera. All can shoot video as well as stills.
The easiest way to externally identify the iPhone 4 models and the iPhone 4S is by the Model Number listed in small type on the back of the phone. The iPod touch 4th Gen models also can be collectively identified by Model Number, but it can be hard to read on the chromed back, particularly if the device has been scratched up.
If the iPhone or iPod touch will boot, it may be even easier to lookup any of these models by Order Number with Everyi.com's Ultimate iLookup feature or the EveryMac app (available for iOS 5 or later and Android). Apple refers to the order number as "Model" in software. To find the "Model" select the "Settings" app and then click General > About > and scroll until the field is visible.
Internally, the iPhone 4S is considerably more powerful than the iPhone 4 or the iPod touch 4th Gen.
First, the iPod touch 4th Gen has 256 MB of RAM whereas the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S both have 512 MB of RAM. The iPod touch 4th Gen and iPhone 4 both have a single core Apple A4 processor, but the iPhone 4S, on the other hand, has a significantly faster dual-core Apple A5 processor.
All three devices support 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, but only the 2.4 GHz frequency of 802.11n. The iPod touch 4th Gen and iPhone 4 both support Bluetooth 2.1+EDR whereas the iPhone 4S supports Bluetooth 4.0. Finally, the iPhone 4 supports GPS, the iPhone 4S supports GPS and GLONASS (the former Soviet counterpart to GPS), whereas the iPod touch 4th Gen supports neither.
iOS Support Differences
iOS support is a major point of differentiation between the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPod touch 4th Gen.
Finally, the iPod touch 4th Gen only partially supports iOS 6 and does not support iOS 7 at all. Based on e-mail received, some readers have been upset that iOS 7 does not support the iPod touch 4th Gen models as they were sold as new a mere eleven days before iOS 7 was announced.
It would be easy to assume that Apple has made this decision to limit the lifespan of the cheaper iPod touch 4th Gen, but the company also may feel that the operating system simply does not perform acceptably with 256 MB of RAM.
Of course, a lack of support for iOS 7 does not mean that the iPod touch 4th Gen will immediately stop working, but app support will wane more quickly than it will for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.
For your convenience, the main differences between the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPod touch 4th Gen are summarized below:
iPod touch 4th Gen
|Display:||960x640 (326 ppi)||960x640 (326 ppi)||960x640 (326 ppi)|
|Processor:||Apple A4||Apple A5||Apple A4|
|Cores:||Single Core||Dual Cores||Single Core|
|Storage Options:||8, 16, 32 GB||16, 32, 64 GB||8, 16, 32, 64 GB|
|RAM:||512 MB||512 MB||256 MB|
|HSDPA:||Yes (7.2 Mbps)/No||Yes (14.4 Mbps)||No|
|802.11n:||2.4 GHz||2.4 GHz||2.4 GHz|
|Talk Time (3G):||7 Hours||8 Hours||N/A|
|Talk Time (2G):||14 Hours/No||14 Hours||N/A|
|Battery (Web - 3G):||6 Hours||6 Hours||N/A|
|Battery (Wi-Fi):||10 Hours||9 Hours||10 Hours|
|Battery (Music):||40 Hours||40 Hours||40 Hours|
|Battery (Video):||10 Hours||10 Hours||7 Hours|
|Connector:||Dock (30-Pin)||Dock (30-Pin)||Dock (30-Pin)|
|Original OS:||iOS 4.0/4.3||iOS 5||iOS 4.1/5.0/5.1|
|Maximum OS:||iOS 7 (Partial)||iOS 7 (Partial)||iOS 6 (Partial)|
|Still Camera:||5 Megapixels||8 Megapixels||0.7 Megapixels|
|Back Material:||Glass (Flat)||Glass (Flat)||Steel (Curved)|
|Dimensions:||4.5 x 2.31 x 0.37*||4.5 x 2.31 x 0.37*||4.3 x 2.4 x 0.33*|
|Weight:||4.8 oz. (137 g)||4.9 oz. (140 g)||3.56 oz. (101 g)|
* In inches, height x width x depth.
† These original prices are for the iPhone models on AT&T with a two-year contract in the US. Pricing on other carriers, such as T-Mobile, is different. Unlocked and contract free iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S models were available at a premium.
†† The first 2010 iPod touch 4th Gen models -- with 8 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB of storage -- originally sold for US$229, US$299, and US$399, respectively. The 2011 iPod touch 4th Gen models, with the same capacity, sold for US$199, US$299, and US$399. Finally, the 2012 iPod touch 4th Gen models -- with 16 GB or 32 GB of storage -- sold for US$199 and US$249.
iPhone & iPod touch Purchase & Repair Options
There are any number of places to purchase a used iPod touch or iPhone as well as services. However, purchasing from a quality company with extensive Apple knowledge -- and after sales support -- will provide the best experience and save you money and time, too.
Site sponsor Mission Repair offers free diagnosis and 24-hour repair for cracked displays, dead batteries, broken buttons, and more for iPod touch and iPhone models in the US and ships parts worldwide for those interested in self-repair.
Please also see EveryiPhone.com's Ultimate iComparison feature to dynamically compare any iPod touch or iPhone to any other iPod, iPhone, or iPad (new or old alike).